Category Archives: Homesteading

Back at it

Phew, it’s been awhile and a lot has happened around here in the last 2 1/2 years.

Quick recap:

Big Kids: Ryan is in the Army out in North Carolina, we’re lucky to see him once a year. Brynn is in school at BYU-Provo. Emily is in school at BYU-Idaho. Ali is still at home in her junior year of high school, working on an AA through Running Start.

Little Kids: We’ve added two more to the family. Gavin was born in January 2016 and Lillian in June 2017. Gavin’s first job on the homestead has been feeding chickens.

Animals: Our current crew is 4 dogs (Kate, Quince, Zeke and Tess), 10 cats (primarily barn cats though friendly), 4 sheep (Val, Mama and 2 lambs), 1 goat (Tanner), 3 pigs (Jack and 2 young females), 3 adult rabbits (plus numerous babies in various grow out stages), 9 ducks, 27 (I think) chickens, and 2 guineas.

House: Remodeled the rec room into two home offices plus a small playroom and kitchenette. This allows Sarah to be removed from the kids and nanny when she’s working.

We finally got a wood stove installed and have been using that for our heat in the main part of the house.

Property: Garden hasn’t been started yet. We took down a handful of cottonwoods this last summer which opened up the area around the house quite a bit. Trace has been busy chopping wood for next year’s firewood.

Goals:

-Garden planted (first need to get those seeds started…)

-Refinance in order to put a new roof on the house (and barn?)

-Possibly more fencing to allow for subdividing the property for the animals.

-We might be selling the big animals – they’re a bit of a headache at times and with the little kids we know we’ll have our hands full until they are more of a help than a hindrance.

-Finish interior bits and pieces: trim, window sills, carpet, etc.

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Weekly Recap/Observations – August 22, 2014

-Trace and I worked all weekend to get the hot wire up for dogs along the boundary fence. We only electrified one corner however it’s the section they pace the most and it seems to have helped; we’ve only had one escape since they’ve felt the bite of the hot wire. We do plan to get the rest activated, especially now that we’ve seen how effective it is.

-Between the chickens and dogs my stevia plant was wrecked. Serendipitously a couple of days previous I’d started following another homesteading blogger who’d posted about making her own stevia extract (the image is of the completed extract, left, and the stevia soaking, right). You can find the post here. I may not have let mine simmer long enough, it still smells of vodka but I’m excited to try it.

-We’ve been lax with our male goats. We bought them as wethers, but they were too young when we got them so we had always planned to neuter them, however time went by and we kept procrastinating. Luckily we have not ended up with a pregnant female! We finally got around to castrating them. I chose to use emasculatome – partly due to age and partly because this seemed like the most humane and safest at home method. It’s not a complicated process and we were surprised at how well the goats handled it. They were more upset about being held still than the pain of the procedure. I found the article here to be particularly helpful.

-While we were holding the goats for the emasculation we went ahead and trimmed their hooves as well. It had definitely been too long since the last trimming. I find it’s a more challenging task than it should be so I put it off; I need to do it more often.

-Mama Hen – Penny – continues to take good care of her chicks. They’ve started venturing out into the chicken run, mixing a bit with the rest of the chickens and she’s been teaching them how to scratch.

-It’s fascinating to watch Penny protect her chicks. Kate (the border collie) was watching the chicks and, in a split second, went after one. I was right there and yelled at her, but I think what really made the impression was Penny chasing after her (Kate) squawking and pecking. Kate bolted; I’m not too worried about Kate trying that again.

-Penny #2 continues to sit on her clutch of eggs. If all goes as it should her eggs should hatch sometime over Labor Day weekend.

-I’m reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle“, not only is it a wonderful book but I’m starting to think about improvements for next year’s garden. In addition, I’m trying to be better about actually harvesting and preserving what we do get this year.

-Along those lines I came home the other night and walked the┬áproperty harvesting a bowl full of blackberries. I also tried to pick some of the salal berries, but they are not very easy to pick and I can now appreciate why they’re not as well known.

-I laid the blackberries on a cookie tray and froze them for future use. We use frozen fruit for smoothies all the time. I’m also interested in trying my hand at jelly if we get enough.